Huge congratulations on your magnificent victory. You fought a positive campaign against one of the most disgraceful campaigns in living memory, and it paid off. You have rightfully been held up as a shining example of what a working class kid from an immigrant family can achieve in modern Britain.
You have also been held up as a shining example of a successful centrist by those Labour MPs who are desperately trying to spin your victory into a bad news story for Jeremy Corbyn. To add weight to their claims, you have given several interviews which have been touted as direct attacks on Corbyn. No one expects you to agree with Jeremy all the time. Boris Johnson often spoke out against Cameron. I am just hopeful you will balance your critiques with credit where credits due, because you and Jeremy share more aims than differences. Let me explain why I say this.
According to your own assessment, you won because you focused on issues most important to Londoners; which is transport infrastructure and fares, lack of affordable housing, the NHS, the need for neighbourhood policing and pro-business policies.
If focusing on these issues makes you a centrist, then Corbyn is a centrist. Under his leadership, Labour have come out fighting on housing issues. ‘Centrist’ New Labour failed to build enough homes, council or otherwise, to correct the imbalances so beleaguering the hopes and life chances of the young. Corbyn is planning to correct this with a much needed house building programme, guaranteed to woo voters to Labour from across the political spectrum.
On rail, we now have a coherent and popular policy which polling suggests has real traction with voters on the left and right. On the NHS, Labour have always been trusted far more than the Tories, but after the junior doctor’s dispute, growing waiting times, failed targets etc, trust in the Tories is at an all time low. Then we have the fact that the usual criticisms levelled against Labour on its policy history re: PFI and creeping privitisation etc, lose most of their teeth thanks to the fact Jeremy Corbyn voted against them.
On policing, Jeremy Corbyn has been hugely effective, forcing a u-turn on the government over police cuts, and as a wife of a police officer, I can assure you Labour are not the toxic party they once were amongst police officers. Times are a changing.
I can only assume you think it’s on being pro-business where Corbyn’s Labour falls short of the centrist mark. Quite why you would think that I don’t know. Only Labour are talking about worker’s rights for Britain’s growing army of self employed. Only Labour are tearing into tax dodging, which creates an uneven playing field for struggling small businesses. Only Labour are making the case for rebalancing the economy between the service sector and manufacturing by investing in infrastructure.
On the point you make in your interviews about economic credibility, Labour, under the financial stewardship of John McDonnell, have availed themselves of some of the greatest economic minds in the world, to guide and shape Labour’s economic policies going forward. They are already winning the argument on austerity, which is in turn exposing austerity for the economically illiterate, socially destructive and needless, project it is. And that is why support for the government is falling. Down 6% on their showing at the 2015 GE. We don’t just win elections by being popular. We also win them by shining a great big spotlight on our opposition and calling them out on their incompetence and lack of compassion.
I acknowledge that a policy platform for our capital city needs to be tailor-made for London because of its unique needs. However I would appreciate it if you in turn acknowledged that a policy platform that worked for you, cannot necessarily be extrapolated for the rest of the country, and runs the risk of turning off voters in poorer areas of the North and South. Sometimes, you have to take sides, a Labour slogan I know you dislike.
Blair took the core vote for granted when he pandered to Murdoch, bankers and big business. It might pay off once, even twice, but eventually voters will grow disillusioned and seek a new home for their vote. In Scotland it was the SNP. In England the ex Labour vote re-homed itself between the Lib-Dems, Greens, UKIP and non-voting apathy.
This was your first election for mayor and it came at a unique time. Not only did Goldsmith fight a uniquely dreadful dog-whistle campaign, you were indirectly responsible for keeping a much loved labour leader in place. Both these factors enthused thousands of campaigners to hit the streets and the phones for you. Next time round, the Tories will have learnt from their mistakes, and the enthusiasm to campaign for you may have waned if you allow yourself to be seen as the wing man of the anti Corbyn branch of the PLP. I hope you will avoid falling into that trap, especially given the fact your policy platform is not vastly different to a policy platform that would make up a Labour Party manifesto if there was a GE tomorrow. The only difference is, you had the entire party on your side selling yours. Corbyn has to shout over a rabble of dissent to get anything positive heard.
I hope your voice won’t be adding to it.
Sent from my iPad